These are college admission essay examples of students accepted to their dream schools. In each case they told us a simple story. By doing so, we got to share a tiny slice of their lives and learned about who they are. We found out a little bit about their upbringing and family life, or their values, fears and challenges. And the beauty of it is that they didn’t have to TELL us, but rather SHOWED us in their own particular way.
Each one of these essays reflects a first-hand account or personal experience. When you have a personal experience that you can convey with imagery, emotion, and using fundamental techniques and writing skills as the type you learn from our essay tutorial, you have the ingredients for a great admission essay.
These college admission essay examples are in response to specific questions posed during the application process.
Describe a meaningful or significant experience in your life:
‘Twas The Saturday Before Christmas’
As my eyes open slowly after a refreshing night’s sleep, I see a beautiful flurry of twinkling red and green lights. My nose quickly picks up on the invigorating aroma of pine trees. My ears hear gorgeous harmonized carols coming from the CD player, coupled with the less pleasant sound of my dad’s thundering snore. I’ve become accustomed to these sights, sounds, and smells because it’s the weekend before Christmas.
For as long as I can remember, on the Saturday night before Christmas, we hold the traditional family ritual of sleeping under the Christmas tree. This tradition has grown into what is almost a complete separate holiday from Christmas. A holiday that my family has not only invented, but perfected over time.
Christmas cannot arrive unless my two younger brothers, my mom and dad, and our dog, “Fleabag”, as my dad calls her, pull out all the sleeping bags in our house and place them beneath the tree, to prepare for our one night hibernation. As a little kid this is what I imagined all families doing during the Christmas season. It was a huge culture shock when I learned from other classmates that I was the only one that enjoyed this unique ritual. As the years continued to race by, the event grew into larger proportions. At first, it was suggested by my dad that we gather around the TV to watch a Christmas movie. Then my brothers added to that and insisted that we play Sorry, the board game. Who would have known this simple game would one day turn into the annual family Sorry Championship, the most prestigious award any member of this family can hold?
After the game (which I usually won), my mom would read The Night Before Christmas to the exhausted family. When we were younger, my parents would tell us that whoever fell asleep first would earn a candy cane from the tree in the morning; bribery at its finest. Now that we are older, we are all tall enough to reach the candy canes on the top ourselves, so that ritual has died out over the years. I’m thankful for that, because I never was the first to fall asleep. However, from this tradition came an even better one invented by my brothers and me that involved us taking all the candy canes, and placing them on the highest branches of the tree so my 5’1” mom could not reach them. I suspect that unless my mother grows three more inches this ritual will never become old.
This custom of sleeping under the tree has become a major part of my childhood. In thirty years from now, I will not remember what Santa brought me in the second grade, or how many presents I received when I was 14. What I will remember is the wonderful memories and how much I looked forward to those nights spent with my family under the beautifully decorated Christmas tree that we, as a family (mostly my father), picked out. Speaking of picking out Christmas trees, that’s an entirely different tradition in itself…
Describe someone who has been big influence in your life:
“This is RED,” uttered Mrs. Evelyn, my kindergarten teacher, as she pointed to a crayon on her desk. “RED,” my young sheepish voice repeated back. Coming from Argentina and settling in a suburb of New York, my parents had become part of a long legion of immigrants that gave up their home to come to the land of opportunities. As a five-year old boy unfamiliar with the English language, I found myself in a strange setting. It felt as if I were riding on a noisy merry-go-round that had no music, just loud voices that I couldn’t understand. The more voices I’d hear, the faster the merry-go-round turned, and all I wanted to do was jump off.
To ease my language-learning process, Mrs. Evelyn, a kindhearted woman, teamed me up with a student named Jimmy. Jimmy was lots of fun, but he was a spirited freckled-faced boy who seemed to be lacking in the pedagogical skills department. Indeed, he was more interested in sneaking up behind Tommy and knocking his blocks down, or pulling on some girl’s pigtails, rather than spending his time on English lessons. I can’t say I blamed him. Realizing things weren’t working out with Jimmy, Mrs. Eveyln decided instead to team me up with Bobby. Unfortunately, Bobby left for another school early in the year. So Mrs. Evelyn turned to yet a third student. Her name was Jill.
“A girl?” I thought to myself, “this can’t be!” My fragile five-year old male ego was mortified. I hated my parents – at that moment – for ever dragging me into this country. Jill wasted no time and quickly got to work. She grabbed me by the hand and walked me through the classroom. She would point out at various objects, and I would grudgingly repeat her words: “chair,” “wall,” “blackboard,” and so on. I couldn’t help feeling like a caged parrot. Jill was relentless. In her heart, she believed she was serving a worthy cause and it showed. In fact, she went far and beyond the call of duty. For instance, the day a first grade bully approached me in the hallway. With a motherly instinct and a stern look, she stepped between us as if she were a screen keeping some annoying bug away.
Pretty soon, I began soaking in this new vocabulary like a dry sponge soaking in water. I found myself looking forward to each new school day, and I particularly enjoyed the company of this skinny, blond-headed girl with an angelic face. After a while, I was the one doing all the pointing and leading the way, eager to learn new words, as Jill followed me and responded to every question with a grin on her face. As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, all the voices and the talking I would hear around me began to finally make sense. Suddenly, there was music in my merry-go-round!
With the passage of time and successive school years, I lost track of Jill. I’m sure, though, wherever she made be, that she’s probably bringing joy to someone’s life and making it a little better. As for me, my newly acquired language skills paved the way for a lifetime of friends and memories, plenty of academic achievements, future college plans, and even what I hope someday will turn out to be a rewarding career in journalism. And while Jill may not account for all of this, she can at least take credit for part of it, and be certain she’ll always have a warm place in my heart.
Write a personally satisfying experience:
Cowabunga! Cowabunga!" This was the battle cry I heard from my two younger brothers early every Saturday morning. "Come on Adam, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is on in five minutes!" Looking back, there’s no way I could have predicted how much that cartoon series would influence my life. It’s a good thing my brothers were so loud and persistent in waking me up on time to watch it. As we crowded around the TV set at our California home, we agonized with each week’s episode watching our heroes step into danger, and then cheered ecstatically as we witnessed them ultimately triumph over evil.
The Turtles always stood up for each other against the evil Shredder, but only working together were they able to defeat him. This Saturday morning cartoon was the glue that bonded us together. While other siblings in our neighborhood fought constantly with each other, we took the Turtles as models and realized that being brothers meant being part of a team. We felt fortunate to be brothers. The fascination with the turtles led us to create and play our own imaginary games together. There was no time for playing video games alone in our rooms. Sensing this was more than just a passing fad in our lives, my parents searched for a martial arts studio suitable for a six-year old Turtle enthusiast, and his two younger brothers.
Within a week, we began taking Tae Kwon Do classes together. It was shocking for us to see other kids making fun of their brothers and sisters when they made mistakes, because this is something the Turtles would never do. For the next several years we attended the studio looking forward to each and every session. We supported each other, and on occasion even competed with each other. As we grew older, the Turtles quietly withdrew from the center stage of our lives, to become more and more just a peripheral part of our existence. But their magic never really left our spirit. It was with this team spirit that we accomplished what many around us would never accomplish: we all reached the rank of black belt at a young age. For most people, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" represents just another product of our pop culture.
A cartoon created for commercial purposes, with characters that made a good Halloween costume. For me, they will always mean much more than that. These Turtles edged a path that brought me closer to my brothers. They introduced me to the martial arts, which ultimately taught me confidence, discipline, and respect for others. To this day, I’m close and supportive of my brothers, and I continue my training in Tae Kwon Do. All thanks to four mutated Turtles that fought evil every Saturday morning.
“The Longest Ten Seconds”
After a long physics test on a sweltering summer day, I felt exhausted. I was on my way out of the classroom, when Mr. Fang found me. “Hi, Jane, can you come with me now? It’s something important and I think you’ll like it.” I was confused, but politely smiled back and followed him. “What on earth are we going to do?” I wondered.
He stopped and went into the auditorium, as I followed right behind. To my surprise, the huge auditorium was full of people: students, teachers, foreign teachers, the principal, vice principals, and counselors. “Something must be going on here” – I thought – as I felt excitement AND energy fill my body. I even forgot about the fatigue and hunger I was suffering from just moments before. I found an empty seat at the back, forgetting all about Mr. Fang’s words. Soon I realized that it was actually an English improvisational speech contest to select top orators to go to nationals. This was without a doubt a great opportunity for English learning.
Nine grade 12 students went up one by one to deliver their speeches. The topics were randomly chosen so that they couldn’t prepare ahead of time. After the ninth candidate completed his speech, the whole auditorium became quiet. “Where is the tenth candidate?” I asked myself. “Maybe we are just going to wait for him to show up.” Then Mr. Fang stood up. He looked around as if he was searching for someone. My heart was pounding hard. What am I worrying about? No way. I’m only in the 10th grade. But when Mr. Fang made eye contact with me and waved me on to the front of the auditorium, I realized my fears were not unfounded.
“Mr. Fang, what would you need me to do?” I asked. My hands were sweaty, and my throat was dry. “Draw a topic, prepare for three minutes and deliver your speech,” he answered. “I had decided to let you have a try this afternoon”, he said, “but I couldn’t reach you because of your physics test. I’m sorry about that, but I think you’ll do fine." I took a deep breath, and my brain started to work faster and faster. “Calm down. Be confident. You always love challenges, don’t you?” I said to myself. As I looked around, I felt comfort and reassurance seeing the smiles on my teachers’ faces. Suddenly, a surge of courage and confidence rushed through my body. I was excited, and surprisingly felt at ease in front of this large audience.
The topic I drew was about my opinion on the reform of Chinese educational system, specifically the college entrance examination. It was not an easy one, but lucky for me it was one I was familiar with, since my multicultural educational experiences provided me some strong supportive evidence for my opinion. I went to the stage, stood up straight, and began my first improvisational speech. The further into the speech I got, the more relaxed I felt. I lost track of time as the words kept pouring out of my mouth.
When I ended my speech, there was an unnerving moment of silence. Within two seconds my face turned red as a ripe apple, and my heart was ready to burst out of my chest. Though the silence only lasted about ten seconds, it seemed like a century to me. Then I heard a thundering applause. It was such a huge relief! Those ten seconds felt like the longest of my life. I went from extreme anxiety to overwhelming happiness. It was an amazing and joyful moment. I looked at Mr. Fang, and he was still smiling at me as always, but more proudly, more happily.