That said, I would argue that there are some basic lessons to be gleaned from the following examples. Here, for instance, is an excerpt from an essay that was not especially well received at the University of Virginia, in part because the writer misjudged the age and sensibility of his or her audience:
Before I share some of these samples, a caveat (one familiar to regular readers of this blog): while it can be instructive to read actual college admissions essays, trying to copy a particular approach — or in some cases avoid it — can be perilous. That’s because how one responds to an essay can be an intensely personal experience.
I’ve worked with teens applying to college for several years now, guiding them through the process, and yes, helping to write their essays. Believe me, they need it!
I find these examples and the ensuing comments to be an example of just how subjective college admissions officers are when making their decisions. Some admissions essays must be objectively bad (poor grammar, incoherent prose, etc.) and I imagine that some must be objectively good, however, it seems to me that the great bulk lie in the middle. In that middle ground then isn’t the merit of one’s essay inextricably tied to the taste’s of the admissions officers reviewing that essay? Would a brilliant essay by Hunter S. Thompson be tossed out because the reader hated drug use and non-conformity? Would an essay by Tom Wolfe be rejected because the reader hated exclamations? Oh my! Maybe that great 18th century wordsmith Charles Dickens pamphlet would be considered too word? Or Hemingway’s to sparse?
3. Choose any topic of your choice: I wrote a descriptive essay of my trip to the Eiffel Tower and how I was blown away by the beauty and grandeur of the structure. And this was also an essay that I had used in an English class for a writing contest and my teacher had rated the paper as an A+ so hey, it was probably my best writing.
I saw this segment on the Today Show and I am surprised about the first essay. I understand the concept of Glee being a new show and seeming juvenile, but it isn’t. I find the show rather creative for taking older songs, modernizing them, and reintroducing them to a new generation of people. Not to mention it adds new life to a song already loved by the older generation who watch the show as well. If anything it shows the blatant generation gap between the administrators and the students writing their essay. John Lennon was a great artist but it doesn’t mean I’m obligated to be a fan, nor is this student. People should respect the difference of opinion. This student was honest enough to say he/she didn’t like the song and why when performed by John Lennon, but found beauty in the song he/she previously dismissed when performed by a group of deaf children. I think that shows a strong sense of self in the student which was, unfortunately, overlooked.
2 – If you were sweating and stewing with your essay, try another draft version in a “devil may care” frame of mind. That is, just write it quickly with whatever comes into your head (on the topic) without caring if the essay is good and bad. Then let a trusted person compare the versions. Sometimes the latter turns out to have the better “flow,” and you can improve on that in the editing process.
P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!
Most college admission officers agree that a student’s character is the most difficult thing to measure on the application. College essays are the place for students to reveal their personal stories in an authentic, engaging and sincere way . In addition to what has already been mentioned, it’s important to read the essay prompts carefully and understand the intent of the question.
I would argue that the admissions committee was able to relate a little more to this essay than the first. And it was certainly more evocative and detailed. It also conveyed more about the writer (and applicant) — a crucial quality in a college admissions essay.
Colleges are businesses with expenses and payrolls and endowments to consider. Use every tool you have to write a great essay, but grades and SAT scores still trump the
essays unless you can guarantee you’ll bring them their first ever College Golf Championship! (Might be a good topic to write about!)
In preparation for a segment on NBC’s “Today” show this morning, I reached out to the admissions offices at the and in California for examples of essays that they considered memorable — for good, or ill.
the best thing you can do is try out a lot of ideas. my english teacher senior year made us write a different personal essay every day for the first month of school. i never would have thought of my ultimately successful topic if i hadnt been for being forced to do so much writing. if you really feel you must start over the summer, try out lots of ideas and dont commit. ask an english teacher or recent ivy grad for advice, your parents may not have the best sense of a relevant and not trite topic.
Ms. Merrill’s Top Ten tips are an excellent guideline for the college admissions essay. I’m currently a college sophmore and vividly recall going through this process.
One additional tip I would add is keep it lite. I think college admissions panels are tired of reading about how you spent your summer wielding a hammer for Habitat for Humanity or ladling soup in a homeless shelter.