Keep reading to find 35 jumping off points that touch on every possible memory you could harness, as well as advice on how to use your brainstorming session to fully realize your idea for an essay topic. What does your application tell admissions officers about you? Mostly it's just numbers and facts: These stats would be enough if colleges were looking to build a robot army, but they aren't. So how do they get to see a slice of the real you?
How can they get a feel for the personality, character, and feelings that make you the person that you are? It's through your college essay. This is important because admissions officers want to make sure that you will thrive in the independence of college life and work.
This is why finding a great college essay topic is so hugely important: This is best expressed through the ability to have insight about what has made you into you, through the ability to share some vulnerabilities or defining experiences, and through the ability to be a creative thinker and problem solver. In other words, a great topic is an event from your past that you can narrate, draw conclusions from, explain the effect of.
He says, if you can answer "yes" to these two questions, then you've got the makings of a great essay:. Take a narrow slice of your life: Always think about your reader. In this case, your reader is an admission officer who is slogging through hundreds of college essays. Instead, you want to come across as likable and memorable. Put the reader in the experience with you by making your narrow slice of life feel alive. This means that your writing needs to be chock-full of specific details, sensory descriptions, words that describe emotions, and maybe even dialog.
And the reverse is true as well: Writing with deep emotion: Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step.
At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: But if you're reading this, chances are you aren't one of these people. Don't worry - I wasn't one of them either!
What this means is that you - like me - will have to put in a little work to come up with the perfect idea by first doing some brainstorming. I've come up with about 35 different brainstorming jumping off points that ask questions about your life and your experiences. I recommend you spend at least two minutes on each question, coming up with and writing down at least one answer - or as many answers as you can think of.
Seriously - time yourself. Two minutes is longer than you think! I would also recommend doing this over several sittings to get your maximum memory retrieval going - even if it takes a couple of days, it'll be worth it. Svetlana was always jealous of climbers whose mountaineering careers weren't limited to flowers and small shrubbery. For Matilda, the main challenge of time travel was packing. Just how do you fit one of those giant Elizabethan ruffle collars into a carry-on?
Finnigan couldn't wait to introduce his future children to his family's birthday tradition - lemons. Thinking about her punk crewcut always made Esme smile. When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary.
Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different.
We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color. Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant?
What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores. A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.
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: A killer first sentence. Great first sentences are punchy. A lively, individual voice.
Writing is for readers. In this case, your reader is an admissions officer who has read thousands of essays before yours and will read thousands after.
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.
All colleges advise applicants to have their essays looked over several times by parents, teachers, mentors, and anyone else who can spot a comma splice.
Your essay must be your own work, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help polishing it. Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step.
At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over of these plus some essay excerpts! The current Common App prompts are as follows:. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.
If this sounds like you, then please share your story. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.
Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice.
It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. These essays are answers to past prompts from either the Common Application or the Universal Application, both of which Johns Hopkins accepts. I've picked two essays from the examples collected above to examine in more depth so that you can see exactly what makes a successful college essay work. Full credit for these essays goes to the original authors and the schools that published them.
We were in Laredo, having just finished our first day at a Habitat for Humanity work site. The Hotchkiss volunteers had already left, off to enjoy some Texas BBQ, leaving me behind with the college kids to clean up. Not until we were stranded did we realize we were locked out of the van. Someone picked a coat hanger out of the dumpster, handed it to me, and took a few steps back. More out of amusement than optimism, I gave it a try.
Suddenly, two things simultaneously clicked. One was the lock on the door. I actually succeeded in springing it. My upbringing has numbed me to unpredictability and chaos. With a family of seven, my home was loud, messy, and spottily supervised. My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally.
My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water. My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned. A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try.
So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people? Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night. But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power.
Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me. I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary. Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded.
I learned to adapt. Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival. But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo. Then, I realized I knew the answer.
I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me. Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose. You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness.
Links to Full College Essay Examples. Some colleges publish a selection of their favorite accepted college essays that worked, and I've put together a selection of over of these (plus some essay excerpts!). Common App Essay Samples.
The essays can be the most important components of your application. Read selected examples of essays that worked, as nominated by our admissions committee. Discussing current events with my friends is fun, but I also like to share with them my secrets to cooking a good scotch egg. Even though my last name gives them a hint, .
Check out these sample college application essays to see what a successful college application essay looks like and stimulate your own creativity. Looking forward to college visits? Check out reviews of colleges - public and private, from the Big 10 to the Ivy League, from small liberal arts schools to large state universities, including 2.
Crafting an Unforgettable College Essay Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. Your essay can give admission officers a sense of who you are, as well as showcasing your writing skills. Try these tips to craft your college application essay.