College Essay Examples | What Works and What Doesn’t

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When it comes to writing a college essay, examples can be a helpful tool in both understanding the format and structure, as well as what makes a successful essay. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every college and every application will have different requirements and expectations, so what works for one essay may not work for another.

Here are some general principles to keep in mind when reviewing college essay examples:

  1. Focus on the prompt: The essay prompt is the guiding force behind your essay. Make sure that the essay stays focused on answering the prompt and addresses all the required elements.
  2. Show, don’t tell: A successful college essay should paint a picture for the reader by showing them, rather than telling them, about your experiences, personality, and characteristics.
  3. Be yourself: The college essay is a chance for the admissions committee to get to know you beyond your test scores and grades. Use this opportunity to showcase your personality, voice, and writing style.
  4. Tell a story: A well-written college essay will have a clear and memorable narrative. Use concrete details and descriptions to bring your story to life and make a lasting impression on the reader.
  5. Edit and revise: It’s important to spend time editing and revising your essay to ensure that it is clear, concise, and error-free.

Essay 1: Sharing an identity or background through a montage

A montage is a visual technique that combines a series of short shots to condense a longer narrative into a compact sequence. When it comes to sharing an identity or background through a montage, the goal is to present a comprehensive and captivating portrayal of the subject. This can be achieved by carefully selecting and arranging shots that accurately reflect the subject’s personality, experiences, and values.

The montage should start with an opening shot that sets the tone and establishes the subject’s context. This could be a close-up of the subject’s face, a shot of their hometown, or a shot of an object that is meaningful to them. From there, the montage should transition to shots that highlight the subject’s background, interests, and accomplishments.

For example, if the subject is a musician, the montage might include shots of them playing instruments, practicing, and performing. If the subject is an athlete, the montage might include shots of them training, competing, and winning. If the subject is a scientist, the montage might include shots of them conducting experiments, writing research papers, and presenting at conferences.

The montage should also include shots that showcase the subject’s personal life, such as their family, friends, hobbies, and travels. These shots help to round out the portrait of the subject and give the audience a more complete understanding of who they are. As the montage progresses, it’s important to consider the rhythm and pace of the shots. The shots should flow seamlessly into one another, with a smooth transition from one shot to the next. The montage should also have a clear narrative structure, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Essay 2: Overcoming a challenge, a sports injury narrative

Overcoming a challenge is a common theme in many people’s lives. It requires determination, hard work, and a positive attitude. In my case, my biggest challenge was overcoming a sports injury. I was an avid soccer player and had a promising future in the sport. However, one day, I suffered a serious knee injury that put a halt to my career.

At first, I was devastated. I felt like my dreams of playing professional soccer had been shattered. I was in constant pain, and the thought of never being able to play again was overwhelming. However, I soon realized that I had a choice to make. I could either give up and resign myself to a life without soccer, or I could fight to overcome my injury and get back on the field.

I chose the latter. I started by seeking out the best medical treatment available. I underwent surgery, followed by months of physical therapy and rehabilitation. The road to recovery was long and difficult, but I was determined to make it back to the sport I loved. I worked tirelessly every day, pushing myself to get stronger and faster.

Along the way, I learned the importance of perseverance, patience, and a positive outlook. I discovered that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. The process of overcoming my injury helped me grow both physically and mentally, and it taught me the value of hard work and dedication.

Essay 3: Showing the influence of an important person or thing

Influence is a powerful force in our lives. It shapes our thoughts, decisions, and actions, and it can come from a variety of sources. One of the most important sources of influence is the people around us, particularly those who are important to us. Whether it is a parent, teacher, friend, or mentor, these individuals can have a profound impact on our lives and the choices we make.

One person who has had a significant influence on my life is my mother. Growing up, she was always there for me, providing support, guidance, and love. She taught me the value of hard work, determination, and perseverance, and she instilled in me a strong work ethic that has served me well in all areas of my life. She also taught me the importance of education and encouraged me to pursue my passions and dreams.

My mother’s influence has also been evident in the way I approach challenges and setbacks. Whenever I faced a difficult situation, she was always there to provide comfort, advice, and encouragement. Her unwavering support and belief in me gave me the confidence to overcome obstacles and strive for success.

In addition to the positive impact she has had on my life, my mother’s influence has also been felt in the way I treat others. She taught me the importance of kindness, empathy, and generosity, and her example has inspired me to be a better person and to make a positive difference in the lives of those around me.

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