college essay examples
Below are a few college essay examples that helped students gain admission to top schools that we found to be particularly effective. Rather than trying to emulate these essays, use them as inspiration to help you find a narrative that would most effectively highlight your background and convey who you are deep down to the admissions committee.
College Essay Example #1
It was a wet and dreary October evening. I shook off the dirt from my cleats on the concrete with frustration. Click, clack, click. The sound echoed through my head until I finally rested my heavy legs on the wooden bench in front of my locker. Up until that practice, I had done everything just the way I had the year before in the Netherlands, yet I still did not reap the same successes. At home, I relished being on the national under 15 field hockey team, consistently having high grades, and knowing just about everyone. At Deerfield, however, simply doing my best at practice, finishing my homework and socializing did not yield the same results. Looking down, I began to wonder why I had ever moved to Deerfield and traded my field hockey gear for muddy soccer cleats.
In search for answers, I decided to tell Deerfield’s field hockey coach about my tough transition. But instead of an answer, Ms. McVaugh offered me to join a girls’ field hockey practice. I felt thrown off by the unusual opportunity at first, yet I quickly relished a warm rush of excitement surging through my veins as I imagined putting on field hockey cleats again. When I set foot on the turf the following day, however, my initial anxiety rejoined my exuberance. I felt more eyes turning towards me with each step I made. “Boys do not play field hockey,” I could hear the girls think. As I trailed behind the girls during the warm-up, the thought of quitting seemed more tempting with each second of silence that passed. But when the whistle blew and the ball was finally in play, I was surprised to see how quickly the gender barrier vanished. Where there was silence and separation at first, I could now see the shared fanaticism through our red faces and hear the emotion in our clamor. At the end of practice, I felt a burning glow of joy overtake my body as I caught my breath on the bench. In that moment, I gradually realized how I should not let obstacles, like gender boundaries in field hockey, hold me back from exploring new opportunities.
Realizing the joy I had found in trying the unconventional, I took this experience to the soccer field to take on its new athletic challenges once again. Rather than agonizing over playing time or titles, I simply redirected my focus on the joy and beauty of the sport. Within days, I noticed the same atmosphere of sweat and screams from the turf take hold of the soccer field. Over time, this helped me take in feedback more readily, ask questions about tactics, and try out new skills. With each new improvement I made through this, I slowly began to grasp the value of my new approach to the sport.
As a result, I decided to bring the same open, curious, and risk-taking mindset with me to the other opportunities that boarding school holds. In the classroom, I began asking deeper questions to fully comprehend new material. Back in the dorm, I turned the cultural differences between my peers into opportunities to learn from and contribute back to. From truly grasping nucleophile-electrophile reactions in organic chemistry to sharing Dutch ‘stroopwafels’ with my hall, such moments remind me of why I sacrificed my field hockey gear to go to Deerfield; even as my new mindset gradually led to the grades, friendships, and even athletic achievements I sought before, I realized that I value the exploration, growth and joy behind such successes far more.
Now, before I put on my cleats, walk into the classroom or enter my dorm, I do not worry about the successes I might fail to reach or the obstacles that might hold me back. Rather, I pour my heart into such opportunities and take their experiences with me.
College Essay Example #2
Oreos. On the exterior, a firm chocolate crust; however, when opened, a creamy white center awaits. Unbeknownst to me, a social meaning awaited behind an Oreo that left a lingering poor taste in my mouth.
From the seductive, powerful attacks within a tango melody to the upbeat, peppy nature of Top 40 hits, I find myself within a new story with each note. Ballroom and pop music, while vastly different styles, have been interconnected since I was a little girl listening to both Hans Zimmer’s ‘Discombobulate and One Direction’s Kiss You. In high school, when I shared my musical taste with my black peers, I received confused stares back.
“Faith, that is the whitest thing. You are such an Oreo!” a friend exclaimed.
I didn’t recognize the connection between two seemingly different commodities until I later learned that an Oreo means a black person who displays characteristics typically associated with white people, therefore betraying their black roots. I never saw ballroom and pop music belonging to a certain race, but the negatively charged implications behind ‘betraying’ introduced new guilty sensations. Should I embrace my musical interests and face social alienation from those who share my skin tone? Or set aside my so-called white core and conform to the expectations of an African-American woman that have been placed upon me?
I didn’t cut music completely out of my life. Being a clarinet player in my band meant being exposed to various musical styles each day. During my freshman year, I decided to challenge myself and perform a solo for the county solo & ensemble festival. Lyrical Composition No. 6 was a piece for which I could play the notes, the rhythms, and everything else on the page. To me, that was all I needed to do, but my band director thought otherwise.
“You’re great at playing the right note at the right time. But where is your interpretation? What can you do to add to this piece?”
At first glance, all I saw were measures of black ink permanently etched into the sheet – resistant to change. How do I add to a composition that exudes such a definitive nature? Then at second glance, I looked below the measures. Beyond the notes, beyond the rhythms, I noticed white space – unblemished and waiting for me to create my own contribution. Once I stopped and determined what I wanted someone to feel from this composition, I picked up my pencil and wrote in crescendos, decrescendos, breath marks, and other musical markings that I felt needed to be included. I didn’t want to simply regurgitate the black ink, but rather take the audience on a dynamic journey that reaches a climactic precipice. This realization made the distinction between style and stereotype clear.
Being categorized as an Oreo was jarring because the documented definition couldn’t simply be erased. Most stereotypes are never fully expunged because they are deeply ingrained in how society views certain races. While I cannot easily change the minds of the many, I can change the mind of my own.
I am my own music maker. I will celebrate the intricacies of ballroom music and belt out a One Direction tune as a proud black woman. That is my style. That is my choice of expression. If allowed, stereotypes can snowball until I am completely consumed by my desire to become the black woman society expects. But I refuse to be held down by its grip because I decide my definition of the black experience. My musical interests are not a betrayal that isolates me from my roots, but rather a beautiful addition that enhances my ever-evolving character. Am I an Oreo? Yes, but by my own design. The creamy white center does not represent a betrayal, but rather a blank canvas patiently waiting for my own input. With pencil in hand, I will not hesitate to make my mark.
College Essay Example #3
Whether I was blowing out candles, writing a letter to santa, or waiting for the clock to turn 11:11, my one wish growing up was not for something, but for someone. I wanted a sibling. I would always look to my friends and think how lucky they were to have brothers and sisters to play with, while I was stuck at home alone with my parents.
However, these sentiments soon changed and my life was transformed, when my parents came home with my new sister, Mia. And while Mia was a furry, Lhasa Apso dog, rather than the human baby sister or brother I dreamed of, she helped me accept and even cherish my life as an only child. I came to realize, however, that it would take much longer for me, and much more than a dog, to accept the other ways I felt alone within my group of friends and my community as a whole.
Living in a predominantly white town and attending a school with a population of about 75% white students has had a huge impact on the way I view my Filipino self. While my friends ate turkey and cheese sandwiches at lunch, I would secretly pick at the traditional adobo chicken my mom had sent me that day. I stood by as my classmates made jokes stereotyping and generalizing Asians into one category, even though I knew there were vast differences in our cultures. During social studies classes, I noticed that I learned more about the ancestry of my friends, rather than my own. Consequently, I began to accept the notion that my heritage was of less importance and something to be ashamed of. I masked the pungent aromas of the Filipino delicacies my immigrant parents made with pasta and hamburgers when my friends came over, I laughed off incidents when parents or teachers would mistake me for the only other Filipino girl in my grade, and I recognized that learning solely about European and East Asian history in world history classes was the norm. I started to believe that assimilation was the only pathway to acceptance, along with the only way I could feel less alone within my community.
It was not until I entered high school that I realized how wrong I was. Although I did not encounter an increase in diversity in terms of ethnicity, I saw an increase in the spectrum of perspectives around me. Through electives, clubs, and activities, the student body I was met with since my freshman year was open-minded, as well as politically and culturally active and engaged, and I immediately joined in. At speech and debate tournaments, I talked with students from across the globe, while at discussions between the High School Democrats Club and Young Conservatives Club at my school, I enjoyed listening and being exposed to different viewpoints. Suddenly, I was no longer willing to feel defeated and instead began to feel confident in displaying my Filipino pride. I introduced my friends to an array of Filipino dishes from lumpia to toron, I asked my social studies teachers questions about the history and current state of the Philippines, and I no longer saw myself and my background as what differentiated me from others and caused my feelings of aloneness, but as something that I should embrace.
I changed my narrative from “alone” to “unique,” and I strive to spread the message that being different can and should be the norm to my peers. I would not be who I am without my Filipino background, and although the community I live in is what previously made me feel alone, it is also what gave me the potential to learn, grow, and broadened my appreciation for what made me unique.
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