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Essays That Worked–Examples of Successful College Applications


I’m often asked by clients and others about how to craft the perfect college essay.  One way to get an idea of what colleges are looking for is to read some great essays from students who have been successful in their bid to enter a selective university.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s rarely a good idea to emulate someone else’s topic or writing style.  The point of asking students to write these essays for their college applications is to get a sense of who that individual is as a person.  Copying someone else’s format or incorporating others’ ideas into your own essay is a sure-fire way to muddle things up.

So, by all means, have a look at some good essays to give you a general idea of how other students have completed this highly personal, highly specific assignment.  But when you sit down to write your own, look into your own mind, your own heart, your own soul to formulate the essay that works for you.
Here is a list of college websites that have examples of college essays on them.

Johns Hopkins University‘s Office of Admission

Hamilton College’s Alumni Magazine

Tufts University’s Office of Admission

Connecticut College‘s Office of Admission

The College Board‘s advice on writing essays has a few examples with critique.

If you want a sense of how important the opening lines of your college essay can be, see my own post here, with samples from Stanford.

And if you run across other colleges and universities that public successful examples of essays, please let me know!  I’ll add them to this list.


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