Creative College Essays

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If you want to write a good essay, you should carefully study the list below, and draw inspiration from other successful students. But it’s your college essay that can ultimately guarantee your success.

I already wrote about the best essays of all time and about how to write an essay.

But in this article, I’ll share some specific examples of great college essays.

While compiling the list, I chose the ones which actually worked (meaning – they got the students into colleges and universities).

Some of them were submitted by the people who wrote them; others by people who knew the writers in question; and still others have the “a friend of a friend who dated my cousin's best friend” level of remove that can sometimes bring their veracity into question. While we're on the subject, the University of Chicago seems like they've mastered the art of making college applications not boring for the people who actually have to read them.

Either way, though, they're all good for a laugh — and a few of them might even teach you something. Check out some of essay prompts from this year's app: You may already be familiar with this one, but for the curious, here's the story behind it: Humorist, writer, and musician Hugh Gallagher penned the glorious satiric creation excerpted here for Scholastic Press' national writing contest when he was in high school. For some years, there was confusion surrounding whether or not he actually used it as his college essay; in 1998, though, Gallagher emailed University of York comp sci professor Susan Stepney, who had posted the essay on her website, noting that he did in fact send it along with his applications. Here's the permalink for the full comment — it's worth just for the final line. I was unable to discern whether or not this one actually happened or whether it's just an urban legend — but I'm willing to bet it's the latter. I feel like maybe the right person might have been able to make this idea work, but the execution of the idea this time around just wasn't up to par.

The second is that these essays can offer insight into the culture of the school.

“The essays of admitted students are also a reflection of the community at these institutions,” Shyu says.

Also, if you need more examples (24 to be specific), you can check a book like College Essay Essentials.

Getting into an elite college has never been more cutthroat.


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